MUW hosts writers’ symposium

The+Eudora+Welty+Writers%27+Symposium+showcased+works+by+renowned+authors+as+well+as+student+writers.
The Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium showcased works by renowned authors as well as student writers.

The Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium showcased works by renowned authors as well as student writers.

Photo by Amanda Strain

Photo by Amanda Strain

The Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium showcased works by renowned authors as well as student writers.

Amanda Strain, Features Editor

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On Friday October 21st I drove to the Mississippi University for Women’s campus and walked into Poindexter Hall, into an auditorium where a lady was speaking quietly in front of an audience which was listening intently, hanging off every word she said.

I was at the 28th annual Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium to witness the reading of the five winners of the Ephemera Prize, but I got there early enough to hear some of the professional authors and writers read. The lady on the stage when I walked in was Paulette Boudreaux, and she was reading from her debut novel Mulberry. I was only present for a few short entries that she read but her book seemed very interesting; it featured a young black girl growing up in Civil-Rights-era Mississippi. Boudreaux was also one of the announcers for the Ephemera Prize.

After she stepped down, two different men came and spoke, one was Richard Lyons who had a collection of poetry and said before he stepped down, “I started off with a reference to ‘I can’t breathe’ and I’m ending with reincarnation. Take that Donald Trump!” His accent made it hard to understand everything he was saying, but from what I did understand he seemed like a very good poet and an admirable person.

The second man was David Armand, who read out of his memoir, My Mother’s House, about his schizophrenic mother and his abusive, alcoholic adopted father. What he read was very dark, and that theme ran throughout the entire book. He mentioned being criticized about not mentioning any of the successes in his life, and his reply was inspiring. He said, “The good part, the hopeful part, is that I’m still here. Through all of this I’m still standing here.”

After these three beautiful readings, the time had arrived. Boudreaux and Armand came back up onto the stage and gave a short introduction to the pieces of all five winners, all of whom came from The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, and then called up each student to read their piece which had out-shined the other 55 pieces entered in the contest by over a dozen schools. One of the winners was former New Hope student, Stephanie Dauber, who read her short piece of fiction that drew from the Black Lives Matter movement.

Former New Hope Trojan, Stephanie Dauber, stands with her former English teacher, Mr. Thomas Richardson, after walking away with the Ephemera Prize for high school writing.

Photo by Amanda Strain
Former New Hope Trojan, Stephanie Dauber, stands with her former English teacher, Mr. Thomas Richardson, after walking away with the Ephemera Prize for high school writing.

The prompt for these students was to write a piece, whether it be a short story or poetry, for “Overcoming the Silence—To Speak Out When ‘It Warrants No stir,'” and these students definitely accomplished that. The pieces were daring and emotional, as well as eye opening. The topics ranged from the aforementioned, inspiring Black Lives Matter short story, to a shocking story of abusive father, to a beautiful story about recovery from cancer, to a well written poem about a drunk man behaving inappropriately at a restaurant, to a chilling story poem about domestic violence.

These students all told stories which deserve the prize, and they told them beautifully.

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